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Swiss cabinet extends quarantine, work-from-home rules into February

Swiss cabinet extends quarantine, work-from-home rules into February
Swiss cabinet extends quarantine, work-from-home rules into February Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
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ZURICH -Switzerland will extend until the end of February coronavirus quarantine and mandatory work-from-home rules and tentatively plans to keep until the end of March other curbs on public life it tightened last month, the government said on Wednesday.

Those measures included the need for people to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to gain entry to many indoor venues as the cabinet tries to avoid another lockdown while COVID-19 cases spike.

The cabinet last week proposed extending all the restrictions until the end of March but encountered resistance from regional authorities who wanted a shorter duration.

"We are in the fifth wave, we don't know how it will develop," Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters in Bern, declining to be drawn on whether the worst had past.

He said the situation would likely remain tense for weeks even though falling numbers of patients in intensive-care units were a positive sign.

Berset noted that the government had since August focused on protecting the health care system rather than on the number of new cases, which on Wednesday surpassed 38,000.

The cabinet would meet again on Feb. 2 to take a fresh look at the situation and decide whether tough measures were still warranted, he said.

The government said people who have been vaccinated on recovered from COVID-19 will no longer need to present a negative test result to enter the country as of Jan. 22.

Switzerland this month halved its quarantine time to five days to help cope with a wave of coronavirus infections that threatens to hamstring the economy as tens of thousands more people get infected every day.

Officials worry that the wave fuelled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant could swamp the health care system in a country where only two-thirds of the population has got two jabs and just 35% has had a booster shot.

National authorities have reported more than 1.8 million confirmed infections on Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein since the pandemic broke out in early 2020. More than 12,000 have died of the ailment.

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